etym etymax Etymology After Forbes & Crowder 1979
<<< Examples of (a) Upper Paleolithic signs, and characters in three of the early written languages which resemble the Paleolithic marks: (b) Indus Valley signs, (c) Greek (western branch), (d) Runic

Etymology to the Maximum
Here you will find the collection of 7,000 words from languages around the world, all starting with the speech sound of K-Vowel-N, plus the arrangement of those words into Clusters of Meanings, the interpretation of the findings, discussion of the origins of speech and language, and more

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List of Clusters

List of Meanings

KVN Catalog Spreadsheet

How to Find Ancient Speech Patterns

Speech Origins



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We have found an ancient pattern of meanings that exists in all the world's languages ~~~ join us in exploring this

List of Clusters

The "noble" Clusters of meaning represent primary attributes of the ancient firemaking rituals of half a million years ago, as experienced by participants there. Man abstracted these attributes from the total experience of the firemaking ritual, and named them "Kan," because the to-and-fro hand-motion used to make fire was already called Kan. From these first-named attributes, the lion's share of man's rapidly-increasing vocabulary descended etymologically. The Clusters are "noble" in the sense that they did not descend etymologically one from the other, but rather were distinct attributes of the experience of the rituals.

Each Cluster is linked to the entire collection of Words and Definitions for that Cluster, in PDF format.

List of Meanings

This is the skeleton outline of the entire Catalogue of K-Vowel-N Words.

The KVN words of the world do not form a random collection. Rather, there are discrete bodies of meaning, i.e., discrete concepts, that are based on the KVN sound. There is a definite number of these concepts, about a couple hundred, beyond which one will not find any more. Any modern KVN word in any language stems from these earlier concepts.

I call these concepts "Meanings." A Meaning is a group of several KVN words, from several languages, that all seem to mean about the same thing. These Meanings, furthermore, are seen to fall into larger groups of similar Meanings. These larger groupings of Meanings are called Clusters (with Sub-Clusters among them). In the List of Meanings, all the Meanings are organized by first by Cluster, then by Sub-Cluster, then by Meaning, in order of magnitude.

To see the individual Words comprising each Meaning, go to the List of Clusters (above).

The K-Vowel-N Catalogue Spreadsheet

Download the entire, interactive spreadsheet catalogue of nearly 7,000 complete, verbatim definitions of words beginning with the speech sound K-Vowel-N. With the spreadsheet, you can sort all of the words by any set of columns: sort them by Cluster and Meaning, or by Language and Word (with complete, verbatim dictionary definitions), or any way you choose. Add new columns to categorize the words as you wish to treat them. Use this sortable dictionary to look up any K-Vowel-N word in any language listed.

How to Find Ancient Speech Patterns

Anyone can do this. Pick a syllable, any syllable. Maybe one that your family name begins with, or one from a word that you are deeply curious about. Simply read foreign-language dictionaries for words beginning with your "syllable," and eventually you will see the pattern of meanings that goes back into the distant past. It takes a few days of reading dictionaries to begin to "see" the repeating meanings that your chosen speech sound has. This should be a very exciting hobby for anyone who loves reading dictionaries, doing cross-word puzzles, or fitting jig-saw puzzles together.

Speech Origins, IMHO

In my view, speech as we know it developed in three identifiable phases: (1) creating and practicing the three primordial consonants; (2) stringing those consonants together in ever-increasing complexity, which reaches its maximum flourishing at the time of firemaking, where chanted strings of consonants and their accompanying dramatic activities are memorized by all for hundreds of thousands of years; (3) the emergence of non-metered, non-chanted speech as abbreviations of the familiar strings of consonants are used by ocean-going subsets of the hominid population to effectively crew aboard their vessels.

In the first stage, many millions of years ago, intelligent, non-monkey-bite-toothed pre-hominids, still very sensorily reactive to dangers around them, but already using their hands far more dexterously and for much greater length than do their ape-ancestor cousins, somehow began tuning out environmental stimuli by making a sounded consonant as they focused on their manual tasks.

Three consonants were developed in this way. The lips consonant (p, b, etc; refinements were to develop out of it much later), was made along with making stone tools. The roof-of-mouth consonant (t, d, etc.) was likewise associated with full-strength blows and kicks. The back-of-throat consonant (k, g, etc.) was associated with any to-and-fro hand motion. All three hand skills together formed man's skill-kit, enabling him to hunt bigger and bigger game, make clothing, gather and grind food, clean hides, prepare wood and stone for all sorts of implements. From the modern popular press on the subject in the US, it seems this stage could have begun anywhere from 5 million years ago or earlier, and certainly was widely practiced by the time the tool record is unmistakable, some few million years ago.

Pre-hominids had transformed, through the sophistication of their hand skills, and developing neural organization, into hominids. The next stage of language growth, one surmises, ran from earliest unmistakable tool records up to well-established firemaking. Hominids, surely enthralled with their manual skills, presumably would also entertain themselves and keep their culture alive by sitting around in circles doing "hand jive" wherein they would chant their three miraculous consonants while demonstrating each consonant's power in hand motions, skits, jokes. They could not have failed to feel real puissance in the abilities they saw in their own hands, which let them control the world far differently from any other animal in their view.

As their tool-making grew in sophistication, so did the strings of consonants and the familiar skits of the hand-jive circles. This must've continued and developed for several million years. Eventually, firemaking is mastered. This great event was seen to emerge from the power of the back-of-throat consonant, which gave them the ability (so they saw it) to perform to-and-fro motions of all kinds. It was this hand motion they used to create fire, by rubbing a rod-shaped stick to-and-from through a notched piece of wood, with such speed and intensity that the heat caused flame. This consonant, the Ka or Kan, became revered as having the power of evoking life itself. It surely formed the basis for a greatly-expanding body of speech sounds.

Now, half a million years ago, as firemaking emerges as a universal practice, they were building oval houses with stone furniture; their tools suddenly becoming regularized "as if by pattern," and the nerve to the tongue suddenly enlarges to today's size. This stage of hominid development is near-human, and gives rise to the pre-human form we call "Neanderthal." But, brilliant as they were, they still probably only chanted during special gatherings, while otherwise remaining primarily silent. It was still a very dangerous world to be announcing one's presence in, after all.

But there was another world altogether different from the domain of the super-strong big-game hunter on land, and that was the world of the open ocean. I postulate that it was the river-going subset of the hominid population who first began vocalizing with well-known, abbreviated, unvarying chains of consonants, derived from the universally-memorized chants around firemaking, in order to successfully avoid the dangers of open water. As they got better and better at using these short epithets within an agreed-upon grammatical framework, their genes were carried farther and farther afield around the world, causing the rise of prosaic, as opposed to the earlier poetic, speech. True speech was emerging for the first time. Invented by the smaller, clever river-traders, to allow all on board the ability to give and receive unmistakable, unerring, commands that could be instantly carried out, allowing them to venture for the first time into the open waters of the world's oceans. Man, as we are today, emerged in the world's first true "gene pool," the ocean.


Online articles, and other web sources, creatively discussing the origins of speech


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Languages Key

List of the 40 languages studied by this author during the K-vowel-N study, with their abbreviations as they appear in the Clusters and Catalogue


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Array: The pattern of meanings, displayed in organized form, derived by studying completely the occurrence of words beginning with one root sound

Meaning (group): In this form of study, a single concept, shared by many language groups, deriving from a common experience, and comprising a minumum of 3 separate dictionary entries from as many languages of words beginning with the same root sound, in this case, the sound of K+vowel+N (but in reality many more dictionary entries invariably comprise a Meaning)

Cluster: In this study, a Cluster is a "noble" and non-etymologically linked group of Meanings that derives from an individual attribute of the original experience that gave rise to the whole Array

Speech: Homo sapiens' verbal communication, using the invariably-ordered short sequences of mouth sounds that we call "words" in full grammatical context, capable of instantly relaying immediately decipherable commands to skillfully employ technological devices

Language: Verbal and other forms of communication that may have been used by the whole line of hominid ancestors, possibly extending to other species as well; functions as expression that modifies behavior, but not necessarily immediately, and not necessarily using technological objects or skills

Phoneme: a small unit of speech; one distinct speech sound

Morpheme: the smallest unit of speech that carries meaning

Ramapithecus: Ancestors of Australopithecus; transitional hominid developing during the drying of the earth's great jungles, dating from roughly 14 million years ago

Australopithecus: Tool-making ancestors of man, dating from about 3 million years ago

Homo habilis: Transitional between Australopithecus and Homo erectus; from Olduvai Bed 1

Homo erectus: Larger than Australopithecus, directly ancestral to Modern Man; dating from about 1 million years ago; developed firemaking half a million years ago, at which time he also acquired heightened tongue capability ours (evidenced by the size of the hole that the nerve to the tongue makes in the skull)

Homo sapiens: Modern man, emerging inexplicably all of a sudden the world over starting roughly 100,000 years ago; identical to us, with same language capability, vocal column, chin, and brain size and organization

Neanderthalers: diverged from and co-existed with Modern Man; became more and more "Neanderthal-like" as time went on; had extremely dense bones, heavy eyebrow ridge, large perfectly circular eye sockets, enlarged visual part of the brain, and no "chin"; doubtful that he had identical language capability to ours; very uniform type lived near polar ice caps; varied types lived farther south; died out roughly 30,000 years ago

Evolution: the slow change in living forms over time, due to changing environmental conditions

Environmental niche: a given set of circumstances in the environment that a life-form uses to make a living in; e.g., sandy desert, under bushes, at night, with oil-bearing seeds plentiful; given the same identical environmental niche, species tend to evolve similarly

Convergent evolution: when two or more species evolve into similar-functioning and appearing forms, due to occupying the same environmental niche

Divergent evolution: when a species begins to evolve into several different forms as it spreads out into new environmental niches

Parallel evolution: when similar species continue to exist side by side without much change, neither one exterminating the other

Mother Tongue: the one language shared by Homo sapiens, ancestral to all modern languages; thought to have formed roughly 100,000 years ago (i.e., concurrently with the emergence of Homo sapiens)

Sound-Meaning Correspondence: the idea that the referent of a word stays attached to the unique sounds of that word over considerable time; currently believed not to last longer than 20,000 years, based on statistical studies

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